Mistry, Shields and Martel are three of this year's six nominees for the Man Booker Prize. Remarkable! All three authors had appeared on Books in Canada First Novel Award shortlists: Shields in 1976 for Small Ceremonies, Martel in 1996 for Self, and Mistry's Such a Long Journey was the winner in 1992. The First Novel Award has in no small way contributed to what is described in the Globe & Mail as the "stunning apotheosis of Canadian writing that has occurred in the past two decades." From the outset, the aim of the First Novel Award has been to recognize and cultivate Canadian talent. Many of the past nominees and winners of this award have achieved literary fame and have delighted Canadian readers with subsequent works. The calibre of the books nominated for 2001 is evidence yet again of Canada's cultural wealth, as expressed at the most fundamental level through its literature. By supporting new talent the Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award holds out hope and possibility for aspiring writers across the country. This is a vital cultural function.
We wish to congratulate all of the nominated authors. In particular, we'd like to recognize Michael Redhill for his marvellous Martin Sloane. Redhill, a published poet, has imbued his novel with a discernible poetic style and sensibility. His tale, ballade-like, is about love and loss. The heroine mourns the unexpected and unexplained disappearance of her great love. She is tormented for years, but gains strength with time and rebuilds her life. There is a great deal more to this story. It is about relationships not just between lovers, but between parents and children, friends, and between people who have been hurt and their memories. It is also about love's power, how it can uplift but also possess, and how its hold, for better or for worse, can be lifelong.
We thank W.P. Kinsella for his tireless reading of debut novels and for the fine 2001 First Novel Award shortlist. A heartfelt thanks goes to our judges, Daniel Richler, Terry Rigelhof, Eva Tihanyi, and Annabel Lyon. Lastly, we want to acknowledge the support of Amazon.ca and the commitment of its entire editorial and executive team to Books in Canada and this award.
Also in this issue: Keith Garebian contributes a feature review of three celebratory books on Stratford, the theatre which "quickly put Canada on the world theatre map," and which is now in its fiftieth season. Lisa Moore's much praised Open is reviewed and Moore herself reveals what she's striving for in her fiction¨to be "delicate and ruthless." She wants her "characters' downfalls to be completely inevitable and thoroughly unexpected." Of particular interest is Lila Kari's critique of Stephen Wolfram's massively ambitious book A New Kind of Science. Wolfram is a remarkable savant, a Caltec PhD at 20, the youngest winner of the MacArthur "Genius" prize, a world class entrepreneur and now the author of a book that has been compared to Newton's Principia. The book erects the computational algorithm as the new guiding metaphor, supplanting mathematics as the ŠQueen of Science.' Read and Enjoy.